Spicy, fresh and hoppy. Saison (also called Farmhouse Ale) is a real thirst quencher! But do you also know what you are drinking when you order a farmhouse ale? Are you ready for a deep dive together with Beer Republic into the wonderful world of saison beer?
The history of saison beer
The name gives it away but saison beer is a seasonal beer from Wallonia (Belgium). Farm brewers were large farms where breweries used to be part of. That is where the name farmhouse ale, or farmhouse beer comes from.
During winter, slightly alcoholic beer was made in these so-called ‘farm breweries’. These beers were thoroughly fermented until there was almost no sugar leftover. Hops were then added to keep the beer good until summer, as there were no refrigerators to cool the beer yet. During the summer, farm workers took beer into the field, this was part of their wages. Most parts of the harvest was used during the winter to brew new beer. This is how they came up with the name ‘Saison’ which is the French word for season, therefore this beer can also be described as a saison style beer.
What are the characteristics?
As already mentioned above, you can describe a Farmhouse Ale, or Saison, as fresh, spicy and hoppy. It is a real thirst quencher that can be enjoyed on a summer day in your backyard, on your balcony or somewhere in the city on a terrace. The alcohol percentage varies usually between 5 and 6.5%. Furthermore, saison beer is unfiltered and therefore the color ranges between blond to amber.
Over the years, quite a few herbs and spices have been added to this craft beer. Because of these different ingredients you can recognize coriander and ginger. However, yeast with a peppery flavor and orange peel can also be tasted when you enjoy a saison. A saison can be called different per region, it is really a type of beer from the area. That means that local ingredients are often used.
Brewing process of saison beer
Brewers of saison craft beer have drawn up a list of criteria that this beer must meet in order to bear the name of saison or farmhouse ale. Saison may only differ on two points, otherwise it may not be called a saison, or farmhouse ale. Below you will find those criteria.
- It is top-fermented beer with secondary fermentation
- It is brewed in the province of Hainaut
- The alcohol percentage is between 5 and 6.5%
- The color is dark blond to amber
- It must have a thirst-quenching character
- It should be well hopped and / or seasoned
- The beer has a high degree of fermentation (dry beer)
- Malted barley is mainly used during brewing
Fancy a nice refreshing saison beer?
Are you ready for a nice refreshing beer? At Beer Republic we have a large selection of saison and farmhouse ale beers from all parts of the world! Order your beer via our webshop. You can place your order with a simple few clicks. Are you struggling to make a choice, or do you need any advice? Contact our beer experts for personal advice! We are more than happy to help.